“Out beyond ideas, there is a forest…… meet me there”
Cathy Fitzgerald is an Irish-based New Zealander living in rural South East Ireland (she moved to Ireland over 20 years ago). She has a background in research biology, contemporary art and science, and ecological art practice (eco-social art practice), social media for building online communities, new-to-Ireland non-clearfell forestry approaches and related policy development.
In the late 1990s, Cathy was involved in Crann – the Irish forest NGO group and worked to raise awareness about hedgerows and broadleaf forestry (in 1903, only about 1% of Ireland’s land remained forested, and since the 1950s, North American Sitka spruce ,destined for clearfell forestry, makes up a predominantly monoculture forest industry that covers ~12% of Ireland).
Cathy began her contemporary art studies at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), Ireland, in 1996; gaining a first class Joint Honours Degree in Fine Art and Irish Art History. In 2002, she completed an MA in Fine Art at NCAD with a focus on new media (virtual realities).
Cathy’s contemporary art practice developed an interest in art and science from 2000 onwards, with a notable permanent exhibition following an Arts Council Residency at Trinity College Dublin’s Zoology Department, co-ordinated by Prof. Paula Murphy. In 2006, she revisited Crann’s early 1990s Leitrim community forestry project ‘the local project‘ with Crann founder Jan Alexander, and developed a solo exhibition at The Dock gallery. In 2008, she was invited to join the committee of ProSilva Ireland, part of a European network of forest professionals of ProSilva Europe advancing Close-to-Nature forestry as an alternative to monoculture, clearfell forestry. In 2008, she also began her ongoing, art and ecology Hollywood forest project. Cathy was involved in the Green Party forestry policy development group from 2010-12 and since 2012 is the Green Party’s forest policy spokesperson.
Cathy’s art practice is research oriented and she has recently successfully defended her art practice doctoral research The Ecological Turn: Developing a Transversal Eco-Social Art Practice Within A Forest using Guattari’s Ecosophy and Action Research (2016) undertaken at NCAD. From analyses of her and others’ practices, she has developed a guiding theory-method framework as an original contribution to the emergent art and ecology field. Her framework significantly helps articulate long-term, transversal eco-social art practices and empowers other creative practitioners to engage in sophisticated and engaging practices relevant for the ecological turn in contemporary art practice.